So the bestie is heading off on a road trip for the holiday weekend and asked for my podcast list.
I've been trying to convert her to podcasts for years, and she's always brushed me off. But I sense a disturbance in her force.
Anyway... I commute three hours per day for my work AND I love to road trip. (My daddy was a truck driver; so yeah, like father like daughter.) So I live by the podcast and audio books.
As I was typing up my Podcast Galore! list for her, I realized maybe you Shady Ladies would be interested in having it for your Labor Day weekend adventures. So here's my list of what I’m currently obsessed with and what my old standbys are.
I'm always looking for something new, too. So if you've got a fave the community should know about, share it with us in the comments! -- Amy 💋
P.S.: I don’t love gabfest podcasts. I like a more highly produced sound that features good interviews, audio and storytelling. If you’re a two-people-and-a-mic kind of listener, my recommendations might not suit you.
My Current Obsessions
Maybe you heard about Cliven Bundy and the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge? This seven-part series goes deep into the Bundy family history and what makes someone take up arms against the federal government -- and get away with it. I love reporter Leah Sottile.
It's a toss up right now whether to turn on Bundyville or Caliphate. This New York Times podcast takes us inside Isis and the War on Terror to understand who we are really fighting. Reporter Rukmini Callimachi is a great guide through this world.
Masters of Scale
This is a great podcast for entrepreneurs from the co-founder of LinkedIn. This could have been a lazy two-dudes-talking podcast, but Reid really subscribes to the power of story and narrative arc. Each episode talks with several people who seem disparate on the surface but whose stories weave together to present Reid's thesis on business. This is really helping me as I think about how to grow Shady Ladies as a business. Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
🎙Brian Chesky: Bringing Handcrafted to Scale
🎙Sam Altman: Why Customer Love Is All You Need
🎙Mark Zuckerberg: Imperfect is Perfect
I’m listening because I'm interested in how a cryptocurrency economy could be used to support good journalism. And this podcast does a pretty good job of making cyrptocurrency at least make sense thanks to host Manoush Zomorodi's talent for decomplicating tough concepts. I always wanted to love her first podcast, Note to Self, but the truth is I subscribed but never listened. It took me an episode of ZigZag, but I warmed to her.
My Former Obsessions
The United States of Anxiety (three seasons)
This takes us inside what's happening in America with deeply reported stories trying to make sense of the world. It started before the 2016 election and is now in its third season. I eat up each episode when it drops.
There Goes the Neighborhood (two seasons)
From WNYC, this podcast is a deep dive into the effects of gentrification in Brooklyn (season 1) and L.A. (season 2). It's smart and presents people from all facets of the conversation. It's also pretty raw at times.
Startup (only season one)
The real life story of Alex Blumberg starting up Gimlet Media. Ex of This American Life and Planet Money, Alex is the king of highly produced radio stories and Startup doesn't disappoint. He knows how to get good tape but also allows himself to get vulnerable with his audience. It's riveting. But the podcast falls apart when it diverges from Gimlet's startup story to other's. It doesn't have the same emotional power, for me.
There is only one season of this show, but I keep anxiously awaiting another. It goes deep inside the crime story of Provincetown, Rhode Island, and its ties to organized crime. Plus, understanding how an idealistic prosecutor becomes a corrupted mayor -- and remains beloved. The producers have been buzzing around Detroit for the past year looking for research support, so I do wonder if the Motor City is about to become the target.
99 Percent Invisible
This is the show that converted me to podcasts. I love how it gets deep into the stories of how the unseen elements of design change our world. Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
🎙The Containment Plan
🎙The Modern Necropolis
🎙History of Sanctuary Cities
🎙Thermal Delight (aka how air conditioning changed our world & politics)
The New York Times takes us inside the news in 20 minutes, with host Michael Barbaro.
For interesting interviews with journalists about their craft and careers.
Recode Media with Peter Kafka
I listen to this for the business of journalism. (Hey I am a journalist and I teach journalism.) But host Peter Kafka is so insider-y sometimes that it can be a bit off-putting to even someone inside the business. So it might not be the thing for a casual listener. But he gets some great guests.
How I Built This
I really enjoy Guy Raz’s produced interview style. Every founding story isn't as compelling as the episodes about Airbnb or Lyft or RadioOne, but Guy keeps me listening every week.
This American Life
The granddaddy of produced radio. The gold standard. But I go through phases where I listen and other times I don't.
Us & Them
Produced by West Virginia Public Radio, Us & Them focuses on stories from the culture divide with the goal of helping us understand each other and find empathy. This is like the Southern brother of Shady Ladies.
Each episode features a musician "exploding" one of their songs, essentially taken listeners step-by-step through the process of creating the music.
2 Dope Queens
Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams. That's all you need to know. They are hysterical and insightful and for them I will forgo my aversion to two-friends-and-a-mic podcasts. They are so much more.
The New Yorker Radio Hour
My New Yorker magazine stacks up at my house, unread. It sort of taunts me each week, making me feel terrible because once again I've failed to read it. But the podcast comes into my feed each week and I jump on it.
I actually don’t listen to a ton because most book podcasts fall into the “gabfest” variety. Two friends and a mic talking about the books they love. If it’s got the right chemistry, it can work. But I haven’t found one yet that draws me in. Plus most have pretty lousy production quality, which also turns me off. Maybe you have?
Here is what I do listen to:
The Book Review from the New York Times
New Yorker Fiction Podcast
WMFA (from local Detroit host Courtney Balestier)
Podcasts I Want Love But Don’t
(But Maybe You Will)
Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast
Smart ideas. Good speakers. Dead boring as a podcast.
Pod Save America
I know. Many of you love it. I find it more anxiety inducing than revelatory.
The concept fascinates me – dark historical tales that fuel our modern superstitions – but every time I subscribe, I never actually listen. It could be your new fave.
Call Your Girlfriend
I should love it. It's insanely popular. It's two long-distance besties hashing out life. Bestie and I are long-distance between Detroit and Brooklyn. But I just feel like an outsider to the convo and want my own bestie back.